Keresan languages

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Region New Mexico
Ethnicity Keres
Native speakers
13,000 (2006–2010)[1]
One of the world's primary language families
  • East Keres
  • West Keres
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
kee – Eastern
kjq – Western
Glottolog kere1287[2]
Keres langs.png
Pre-contact distribution of Keresan languages

Keresan /kəˈrsən/, also Keres /ˈkrs/, is a dialect cluster spoken by the Keres Pueblo people in New Mexico. The varieties of each of the seven Keres pueblos are mutually intelligible with its closest neighbors. There are significant differences between the Western and Eastern groups, which are commonly counted as separate languages.

Family division[edit]

  • Western Keres: total of 3,391 speakers (1990 census)

Genetic relationships[edit]

Keres is a language isolate. Edward Sapir grouped it together with a Hokan–Siouan stock. Morris Swadesh suggested a connection with Wichita. Joseph Greenberg grouped Keres with Siouan, Yuchi, Caddoan, and Iroquoian in a superstock called Keresiouan. None of the proposals has gained the consensus of linguists.



The chart below contains the reconstructed consonants of the proto-Keresan (or pre-Keresan) as reconstructed by Miller & Davis (1963) based on a comparison of Acoma, Santa Ana, and Santo Domingo, as well as taken from phonetic notes written by Thomas Noxon Toomey regarding the Acoma dialect (1914).

Labial Dental Palatal Retroflex Dental/Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive unaspirated b p d t ts ɡ k ʔ
aspirated tʃʰ tʂʰ tsʰ
glottalized[clarification needed] tʃʼ tʂʼ tsʼ
Fricative plain z s ʒ ʃ ʐ ʂ h
glottalized[clarification needed] ʃʼ ʐʼ ʂʼ
Sonorant plain w r j
plain, nasal m n ŋ
glottalized, nasal


The consonant *tʂʼ only surfaces as an alternate form of underlying * or *tʂʰ.

Morphophonemic alternations:

Southwestern peoples
Basic form Aspirated Glottalized Fronted
t t’
t’ tʃ’
k k’ ts
k’ ts’
tʂʼ t
tʂʰ tʂʰ tʂʼ tʃʰ


Short Long
Close ɪ i
Mid-front ɛ̝ e
Mid-central ɤ̘ ə
Open ɑ a
Back-mid o
Back-close ʊ u



Acoma Keres has a relatively complex tone system.[clarification needed]

Due to tone deafness, Franz Boas encountered difficulties studying tonal languages such as Laguna; however, after he left, his student Elsie Clews Parsons stayed behind and documented Laguna language and stories.[6]


The structure is C(C)V(V).

History and usage[edit]

Keres was one of the seven languages used in the Coca-Cola commercial called "It's Beautiful" broadcast during the 2014 Super Bowl.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Keresan". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "English - Queres Language". The El Morro Vocabulary. Retrieved 2017-02-14. 
  4. ^ a b Toomey, Thomas Noxon (1914). Grammatical and Lexical Notes on the Keres Language (Acoma-Laguna Dialect) of the Keresan Stock. St. Louis, MO, USA: Hervas Laboratories. 
  5. ^ Davis, Irvine (1964). The Language of Santa Ana Pueblo, Smithsonian Bulletin 191, Anthropological Papers, No. 69. 
  6. ^ Marmon Silko, Leslie (1981). Storyteller, p.254. Arcade. ISBN 1-55970-005-X.
  7. ^ "Native Language Spotlighted During Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad". Indian Country Today Media Network. 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 


  • Boas, Franz. (1923). "A Keresan text", International Journal of American Linguistics, 2 (3/4), 171–180.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Davis, Irvine. (1963). "Bibliography of Keresan linguistic sources", International Journal of American Linguistics, 29 (3), 289–293.
  • Davis, Irvine. (1964). The Language of Santa Ana Pueblo. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology bulletin (No. 191); Anthropological papers (No. 69). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
  • Davis, Irvine. (1966). ["Review of Acoma grammar and texts by W. R. Miller"], American Anthropologist, 68 (3), 810–811.
  • Davis, Irvine. (1968). ["Review of Acoma grammar and texts by W. R. Miller"], Language, 44 (1), 185–189.
  • Davis, Irvine. (1974). "Keresan-Caddoan comparisons", International Journal of American Linguistics, 40 (3), 265–267.
  • Hawley, Florence. (1950). "Keresan patterns of kinship and social organization", American Anthropologist, 52 (4), 499–512.
  • Kroskrity, Paul V. (1983). "On male and female speech in the Pueblo Southwest", International Journal of American Linguistics, 49, 88–91.
  • Maring, Joel. (1975). "Speech variation in Acoma Keresan", In D. Kinkade, K. L. Hale, & O. Werner (Eds.), Linguistics and anthropology in honor of C. F. Voegelin (pp. 473–485). Lisse: Peter de Ridder.
  • Mickey, Barbara H. (1947). "Acoma kinship terms", Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 12 (2), 249–256.
  • Miller, Wick R. (1959). "Spanish loanwords in Acoma: I", International Journal of American Linguistics, 25 (3), 147–153.
  • Miller, Wick R. (1959). "Some notes on Acoma kinship terminology", Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 15 (2), 179–184.
  • Miller, Wick R. (1960). "Spanish loanwords in Acoma: II", International Journal of American Linguistics, 26 (1), 41–49.
  • Miller, Wick R. (1965). Acoma Grammar and Texts, University of California publications in linguistics (Vol. 40). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Miller, Wick R.; & Davis, Irvine. (1963). "Proto-Keresan phonology", International Journal of American Linguistics, 29 (4), 310–330.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Sims, Christine P.; & Valiquette, Hilaire. (1990). "More on male and female speech in (Acoma and Laguna) Keresan", International Journal of American Linguistics, 56 (1), 162–166.
  • Spencer, Robert F. (1946). "The phonemes of Keresan", International Journal of American Linguistics, 12 (4), 229–236.
  • Spencer, Robert F. (1947). "Spanish loanwords in Keresan", Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 3 (2), 130–146.
  • Walker, Willard. (1967). ["Review of Acoma grammar and texts by W. R. Miller"], International Journal of American Linguistics, 33 (3), 254–257.
  • White, Leslie A. (1928). "Summary report of field work at Acoma", American Anthropologist, 30 (4), 559–568.

External links[edit]